By Ray Fleming
SO the local authorities are to invest yet more money in making it possible for cyclists to move speedily and safely around Palma. I can see that cycling is a healthy and enjoyable activity when practised in appropriate surroundings but city streets do not come into that category and at the moment I believe that cyclists in the centre of Palma are a major threat to other road users and to pedestrians. It may be argued that the new cycle lanes and other facilities will lead to more responsible behaviour on the part of cyclists but it is equally possible that it will encourage them in the belief that they are a privileged sector of the community and can act accordingly.

So unless the new cycle lanes provide access to every nook and corner of Palma we will still find cyclists weaving in and out of pedestrians on pavements, using pedestrian crossings at traffic lights to save time and pushing to the front of cars waiting patiently and legally for the red light to change to green. What puzzles me most is why cyclists get all this preferential treatment for free. They pay no licence fee to use the roads or to park their cycles wherever they feel inclined to do so. Why shouldn't bicycles carry a registration number which has to be paid for? The answer, I suppose, is contained in the belief that increased cycling will “create a cleaner city by reducing the density of traffic and traffic jams and the level of noise in public places to protect the environment”. But in reality the effect will be small.

The premise is that large numbers of motorists will give up four wheels for two, which is nonsense for all kinds of reasons. What really builds up my head of steam is the blithe assumption that we are all of an age that makes cycling a practical alternative. I have not ridden a bicycle for sixty years and I can just see myself getting on one of the Park and Cycle freewheelers and causing three car crashes and ten terrified pedestrians within five minutes of doing so. What special projects have the authorities in mind to make Palma a nicer place to move around in for the over 60s?

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